Semi-diplomatic, Edited and Glossed Texts

Each text is presented in three different ‘displays’ which we call Semi-diplomatic, Edited and Glossed. These terms are to be interpreted within the specific senses discussed below:

Semi-diplomatic display

This display presents the spellings, and (more roughly) the spacing, punctuation and capitalisation of the text in the original manuscript.

Note: Our focus has been at the level of the graph, aiming to produce texts which accurately present the spellings of the manuscript. Thus, our semi-diplomatic displays include the errors made by their medieval and later copyists, even when it is clear what the erroneous graph represents in the scribe’s exemplar. However LangScape by no means had as a goal a study of scribal errors, and our display of these errors will reflect our noting them rather than our seeking them out.

Word division, capitalisation and punctuation

We have not wished to impose an interpretative structure on the texts by editing them with modern punctuation, capitalisation and word division. On the other hand, it has not been our aim, or indeed been feasible within the time frame of the project, to reproduce the manuscript punctuation, capitalisation and word division as an end in itself. Such a study would involve scientific measuring, image enhancement, and close attention to, for example, punctuation practice as it evolved over the thousand years within which our texts were produced and copied. Thus the user needs to take note of the explanatory material below:

Word division

In many cases a scribe will insert a very clear gap consistently between what we have treated as 'words'. In other cases the scribe will run two or more ‘words’ together with no discernable space between them. However, most instances lie somewhere on a continuum between the two, with many words clearly and intentionally divided by a half-space. Not only will every transcriber differ in their representation of these spaces, but we ourselves would represent them differently from one day to another. Nevertheless, they give an overall impression for each text which may help when assessing whether the writing of a boundary point as one word has semantic significance or not. Whilst no individual instance is hard and fast, they act as a valuable corrective to the generally ‘clean’ appearance of most editions and give some insight into the way scribes interpreted (or alternatively failed to understand) their exemplars.


With only the crude tools of upper and lower case at our disposal, our representation of capitalisation must be treated with similar caution. We are often thrown back onto impressionistic considerations, representing in upper case letters which seem, when viewed at the level of the whole text, to be given an extra prominence, whether they are written as majuscule or as slightly enlarged minuscule. They too lie on a continuum, and representation has inevitably been subjective.


Since we are dealing with manuscripts from the eighth to the eighteenth centuries, we are here again dealing with points along a continuum - for example from punctus versus at one end of the time spectrum to semi-colon at the other, or between what might be represented as a punctus or as a virgule. Here constraints of time have necessitated a simplification of the punctuation to give a general impression of the marks used by the scribe to punctuate the text.


Where we have noticed accented syllables we have recorded them, whilst not scouring the manuscript with a magnifying glass to seek them out; such a study would be invaluable, but again was not within our time frame.

Note: punctuation and accenting were frequently subject to or entirely imposed by later annotators.


In a corpus of manuscripts ranging over eleven centuries, the number of abbreviation strokes encountered is extensive. There are patterns of abbreviation practice consistent within manuscripts, e.g. a difference between the nasal suspension stroke and the ‘er’ suspension stroke as in þonō (for þonon) and wint’ (for winter); there are patterns of abbreviation practice over time and patterns of abbreviation practice specific to particular letters. We have used this information (form of stroke, date of manuscript, the scribe’s practice elsewhere within the manuscript etc.) to inform our decisions over the expansion of the abbreviation. However, it is not within the scope of the LangScape project to display the many different physical forms of the strokes themselves, especially since the abbreviated words are likely to be displayed to users outside their manuscript contexts (for example, within concordance runs).

For some characters little consistent distinction can be seen between the forms with respect to the abbreviation; the form æft with a neat horizontal stroke above the t, as well as forms more resembling æfŧ, or æft’ all equally indicate the expanded form æfter. The same applies to characters with (particularly in later manuscripts) straight ascenders such ‘d’, ‘h’ and ‘l’ where a ‘horizontal’ stroke intersecting the ascender and a ‘vertical’ stroke following it are, depending on the manuscript, as likely to represent the expansion -e as the expansion -er, if not a misread ð. For all of these we have used the symbol , our default general symbol for abbreviations, reserving ¯ for unambiguous horizontal strokes over the vowels, ‘y’ and nasal consonants.

Where there is potential ambiguity or where the scribe’s choice of abbreviation stroke appears to contradict the contextually required expansion, then we will add an explanatory note.

Variant readings

We record instances where our readings differ from those in editions which are likely to be being used by a significant number of users. These are typically the British Academy Charters volumes and the works on boundary clauses by Della Hooke. This flagging of differences fulfils the dual function of 1) informing users that we are aware that our readings differ, and usually also 2) drawing the user’s attention to works which we recommend them to consult. This edition will mostly also be the one we have consulted when glossing and translating the text.

We generally note readings which appear to us to be in error within each edition’s own editing conventions. In other words, we will not generally record differences in the spellings of the definite article in variant texts in cases where those differences are not recorded in the edition.

See further under Editing conventions

Edited display

LangScape uses the term ‘Edited’ in a very specific way. The crucial function of this mode (visual for the user but also structural within the XML text files) is to break the text up for analysis (for searching, concordancing, plotting etc.). We have divided the text into component parts (word-units), each of which can be provided with a headword and with a translation. The word-units consist of:

  1. Single words: in the text display these are separated by a space which indicates that each word-unit will be supplied with a headword and translation (see Glossed display below); here are some examples: ‘to’, ‘burhware’ and ‘in_to’.
  2. Composed words: these contain a hyphen and are analysed both as a single entity and, below that level, as discrete component parts. For example Stan-ford is glossed with the headword ‘Stanford’ and below this with the headwords ‘stan’ (stone) and ‘ford’. Crucially, ‘Stanford’, ‘stan’ and ‘ford’ will all be picked up by Headword Searches. Composed words are typically followed by the word ‘boundary’, indicating use as an already established place-name as opposed to a feature. Thus, ‘to stan-fordes mearc’, but ‘to stan forda’, the first referring to the boundary of Stanford but the second potentially to the stone ford itself.

Emended readings

These are kept to a minimum and mainly consist of the correction of well-known and unambiguous scribal misreadings at the level of the graph. The most frequently emended characters are manuscript ‘s’ emended to ‘g’ and manuscript ‘r’ emended to ‘s’ (common 14th century misreadings). Other emended characters include manuscript ‘ce’ emended to ‘æ’, ‘c’ emended to ‘t’ and vice versa and the emendation of the frequently confused characters wynn, p, thorn and y. We also emend minims (eg. ‘u’ and ‘n’) in post 15th century copies where their misreading is unambiguous, ambiguous minims being usually transcribed according to sense. A note supplies the manuscript reading in every case.

See further under Editing conventions

Glossed display

Here every word of the text (as broken down above) is supplied with a headword and a translation. The intention has been to lay bare the structure of the texts so that the user can see very precisely how the more fluid translations found in secondary sources have been arrived at and can see what headword to look up in the appropriate dictionary resources; they can thus follow up the often wide range of meanings the headword contains. See further Tutorial Introduction.

The Translation, on the other hand, aims to be more general than specific; the intention here is to open the text up to as many potential interpretations as possible.

Where appropriate we have consulted and greatly benefitted from published work on each text (typically the British Academy Editions and the series of works by Della Hooke). We have not attempted to identify boundary points with locations on the ground, although where such identifications are mentioned in our notes, the reader can assume that these come from the work cited under ‘Variant Readings’ in the Semi-diplomatic display. We frequently differ from these published editions in our headwords and translations, and do so in the knowledge of the alternative suggestions given in these works. On the other hand, there are many individual studies (both on specific boundaries and on place-name elements) which we have not had time to consult, and the user will need to further revise our suggestions against these works in an ongoing process of interpretation.

LangScape notes

Each text is accompanied by a link ‘View LangScape notes’ in which you can find:

  1. Information about the number of versions of the text which are known to exist, together, where relevant, with notes supplementing those in eSawyer.
  2. Details of hidage assessments.
  3. Notes on word spacing and general observations made whilst checking the texts against manuscript; these were solely intended to aid us in the later task of editing, but we have decided to include these on the website. They are of course informal and by no means exhaustive.